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Mozambique Gets Its Cheetahs Back

Danielle S

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The Maputo Elephant Reserve in Mozambique is a stretch of land that incorporates wet swamp, coastal areas of lakes, and grassland. The most common large wildlife sight in the area tends to be elephants that have been protected from poaching. The other big population in the same location are antelope by the thousands, with sizable herds. That makes the Reserve also an ideal location for the release of four cheetahs that have been transplanted to the Reserve to bring back the big cat to the region.

As a joint project between the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC) of Mozambique as well as the Peace Parks Foundation, four cheetahs have been introduced to bring into the mix of the reserve natural predation as well. The cheetah as a species used to populate the entire African continent. However, today, 90% percent of that presence is gone. The reintroduction program is focused on trying to reverse that condition by re-establishing the cheetah in the Mozambique reserve and grow its numbers again.

The four cheetahs brought to the Mozambique reserve were sourced from South Africa, and immediately adapt to the reserve with its plentiful supply of antelope. With a burst speed over 100km/hour, the big cats can easily hold up on their own hunting game, even the fast antelope. However human hunting, poaching, and disease have wasted the cats’ population dramatically over the centuries, and now conservation efforts are trying to restore their populations again.

Transported by plane and truck, the four cats have had to go through a transition period to get adjusted to their new locale. That included a holding phase in a local pen for a few weeks until they were ready to release into the wider reserve itself. Much of the adjustment helps the cats realize the smells and nuances of the area as well as become adapted to the weather and noises of the reserve day and night. The cats were also purposefully mixed from different private reserves where they were raised, increasing the diversity of their local gene pool in the hopes of stronger and better offspring as the cats eventually mate.

As soon as they were released, two of the cheetahs wasted no time zipping off into the distance of the new Maputo Reserve and celebrating their new freedom. It was exactly what the programs and conservation experts wanted to see when the cages were opened in the final step of the cats’ transport. Ideally, the partnership hopes that the cheetahs will add to the attraction of the reserve for visitors to see the wildlife, thereby turning the operation in a self-sustaining system in the future. That does seem doable given the addition of the cats as well as 5,000 other species via help from the World Bank’s Mozbio Programme. To date, the total wildlife population in the Maputo reserve is somewhere between 15,000 and 17,000 individual animals.

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Cat Sneaks into a Shipping Container for a Serious Ride

Danielle S

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When your cat goes missing for almost five years, it’s a pretty safe assumption that the animal has probably passed away. What you’re probably not ready to hear is that the cat is alive and well, ready to come home, and has been away at sea. That was the case for one feline that managed to get itself stuck inside a shipping container that ended up on the North Sea, literally.

As it turned out, food brought out the stowaway. Realizing they had an unexpected visitor, the crew on an offshore platform were able to coax the cat out of hiding with a bit of chicken. Figuring it was going to get a better meal and care than sitting inside a cold metal box, the cat made itself at home with the crew and was nicknamed as a result. However, Dexter, the cat’s real name, was not an unknown. Once the story got out, it was discovered the cat had been a regular on the HMP Grampian as well, where prisoners working the boat had taken a liking to the cat and gave it a different name, One-Eyed Joe.

Ultimately, the Scottish SPCA were contacted about the unscheduled visitor and how to get the cat off the platform. With the regular trips made for supplies and personnel to and from the platform, Dexter was transported by helicopter to the mainland and put in the trusted hands of waiting SPCA personnel on landing. So now, not only has the stowaway cat been on a boat and an offshore platform, he’s probably one of a select few felines that has been in a helicopter as well.

Aimee Findlay, the SPCA rescue officer, was perplexed how Dexter got into a shipping container in the first place, much less an offshore platform. Dexter was then identified by micro-chip as well as his true owner, Bridie Dorta. Because of smart thinking with a microchip, Dexter was ultimately reunited with his original owner, who never expected to see the cat again after he disappeared. Dexter had always been a roaming type of cat, Dorta noted, but when he really disappeared, they thought he had been hit by a car or something similar. Seeing the cat again almost half a decade later was more than a bit of a shock for Dorta.

All turned out well though. Dexter was in good health, curious and friendly as ever, and he definitely seemed to remember his original owner when reunited. No surprise a number of comments were made about the cat having 9 lives and probably having used up his reserves to get all the way back home.

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A Kiwi Chick With a Maggot-Filled Cracked Egg Should Not Have Made It

Danielle S

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Kiwis are known to be the national bird for the country of New Zealand. However, while New Zealanders also have a reputation for being a hardy bunch, the kiwi bird itself is actually a very fragile animal, particularly when it is born. In one particular case, a small chick, not even hatched from its egg, was essentially on the ropes when found by hikers in the National Kiwi Hatchery in Rotorua. Turned over quickly to the Department of Conservation, the chick in the egg was moved over to the Hatchery for care and a slim chance of survival.

Arriving, the egg was damaged, broken and worse, infested with maggots. Nature was already hard at work trying to claim the chick as a statistic. The staff at the Hatchery thought the bird had a chance and the damage was just on the outside, so it was placed in an incubator. However, the next day, on close inspection, it was realized the maggots were threatening the bird itself. Vets worked immediately to clean out the fly larvae and preserve the bird. Every kiwi literally counts as the bird among a scant 80 species left that have not gone extinct.

As it turned out, the timing was incredibly fortuitous. The chick was able to make it through those first days, grow, and gain strength. After a bout of antibiotics for good measure, the chick got a solid bill of health from the vets and adapted just fine to its new digs. From there it was able to gain in size and ultimately grew to a full young bird, active and strong in chasing food and taking care of itself. For the caretakers at the Hatchery, the stubborn chick is symbolic of the New Zealander spirit. It’s also a classic case of how much effort, time, skill and expertise goes into trying to save each chick and help the numbers of Kiwi birds grow at the Hatchery.

At the one kilogram weight level, the bird has reached enough maturity to be returned to the wild. The chick will become part of the Kiwi population, fostered and protected at Taranaki Kōhanga Kiwi at Rotokare. The story of the chick’s survival continues to impress everyone who deals with the case and the transfer of the bird as it grows, not to mention it makes for a good national story as well.

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German Shepherd Mix Saved After Two Hours in the LA River

Danielle S

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Scooby, a German Shepherd mix breed dog, was rescued after two long hours in the Los Angeles River. The river is fifty-one miles long beginning in the Canoga Park section of Los Angeles and continuing through the San Fernando Valley and downtown Los Angeles. It flows through a concrete channel on a fixed course. It only takes six inches of fast-moving water to sweep an average-sized person off their feet and carry them downriver. When the water reaches twelve inches, the current can move a car off the road. It was easy for Scooby to be carried away by the strong currents created by the storm a day or two before. The river’s current can be fast-moving after a storm, and this is what happened right before Scooby spent two hours in the river.

Scooby is a large German Shepherd, a breed known for their strength. Scooby was strong enough to escape his owner and a would-be civilian rescuer. Scooby’s owner refused to let go of him to grab a rescue ring thrown by firefighters.. Scooby broke away from his owner, but firefighters were able to get a rescue ring around her and she was rescued safely with the help of a helicopter. She was taken to the hospital and treated for minor injuries.

Around three-thirty, in the afternoon, a twenty-eight-year-old would-be rescuer and good Samaritan jumped into the river and was able to grab hold of Scooby. After a few minutes, other rescuers were able to get the man a rope. However, Scooby was able to escape his rescuer and continue his journey down the river. After his own rescue by firefighters, the civilian good Samaritan was treated for dog bites inflicted by Scooby, who was acting out of fear and exhaustion. Dogs do not recognize when humans are trying to help them. They react out of fear in an attempt to escape the dangerous situation they have found themselves in.

The Los Angeles Fire Department released a statement asking well-meaning civilians to stay away from active rescues, including Scooby’s. Even though some civilians may truly want to help, they ultimately end up interfering with trained rescuers’ attempts to save the animal in danger, like Scooby. Rescuers often end up with multiple victims because, even though they have good intentions, these would-be rescuers are not trained and do not have the proper personal protective equipment to prevent injury. In this case, both the owner and the young man suffered from dog bites because they were not wearing the right protective gear.

Scooby was rescued after spending about two hours in the river. Firefighters were able to corner him in an area of the cement riverbed where they could safely stand up. The Los Angeles Animal Services Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team also helped with the lengthy rescue. He was suffering from hypothermia and had some abrasions on his paws. In addition, he was understandably exhausted and hungry. Scooby was able to be returned to his family the same night.

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From Desert to Forest- Indigenous Residents Transform Mexican Landscape

Jolie

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We’ve heard a lot about deforestation but a desert being transformed into a forest…now that’s unheard of.

The delicate soil in sections of Oaxaca had begun altering wind gusts and affecting rainfall, as well as the wide stretches of temperate and caliche rocks which only the most tenacious plants, like succulents, could thrive in.

However, it would be difficult to convince shepherds to quit entering restored areas after hundreds of years of grazing customs. It’d be only the beginning of a long list of difficulties.

Since generations of overgrazing have impoverished soils in the Mexican state, 22 neighborhoods have decided to take up the responsibility of replenishing them.

The restoration of 49,000 acres or more in the previous two decades has resulted in thriving forests on numerous sites.

Community members must first find ways to rehabilitate their soil before planting trees, which makes the work even more difficult than usual.

Agroforestry and even carbon credit sales are now viable possibilities for forest-dependent livelihoods because of the initiative’s success.

On one of the many hills in the San Juan Bautista Coixtlahuaca city of southern Mexico, erosion has stripped the land to its bare rock, leaving no trace of a forest or, even more incredible, a civilization. In Tepejillo, this has occurred.

Mayor of Mixteca Alta, Horacio Miguel, believes the forests sustained a population of over 100,000 ahead of the arrival of the Spanish.

As a graduate of the University of Chapingo’s irrigation engineering program, Miguel worked extensively throughout this limestone region, which previously supported the mighty Mixtec king of Coixtlahuaca.

The world back then was completely different from the one we live in now. Some 2,800 individuals are battling to receive enough water for their daily needs. The terrain is barren and not capable of retaining or filtering precipitation in the basin’s higher reaches.

Communities in this area began water restoration and soil fertilization about two decades ago. Their perseverance has paid off. Amidst the whiteness of the desert, green shoots of plants sprouted from the karst rocks. It’s only when you get closer to the trees that you realize the junipers, breadnuts, pines, and oaks planted there since 2021.

Before they could plant them, they had to excavate ditches to collect rainwater. Since the rock is pure, the team had to utilize machines to break ground. Miguel admits that “sometimes even the machines weren’t able to accomplish it.”

It seemed impossible that these flimsy seedlings could grow in a forest in such harsh conditions. On the other hand, a few kilometers away, at the Loma Larga as well as Narreje locations, where community work had begun 20 years earlier, good results were being shown. The highway that connects Puebla and Oaxaca is flanked by dense vegetation that rises to a height of 5 meters (16 feet).

San Juan Bautista Coixtlahuaca’s agricultural community has been reforested since 2000, with at least 2,000 acres of damaged land returning to its natural state. Mexico City’s Chapultepec Forest—the largest urban park in the Americas—is just about triple that size.

Reforestation in the Mixtecs-Chocho Community Alliance stretches across 25 villages, including Coixtlahuaca, which is just one of them. Over 49,000 acres of land have undergone restoration in the alliance’s region, which is the equivalent of at least three Manhattans. As a result, forest restoration may be achieved when the entire population is on board with the concept of functioning rather than against nature.

To celebrate their accomplishments on June 17th, 2021, the Environment and Natural Resources secretary as well as FAO hosted a World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought at the site they worked so hard to restore.

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Maine’s First Official Courthouse Pup Reporting for Service

Liz L

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Most people have heard of judges, bailiffs, courthouse clerks and all the various trappings that go along with a court. However, a courthouse pup is bit of a new curveball for some folks. The use of animals for help people suffering from trauma has been a regular practice in recent decades, particularly those who have been suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome or similar. Animals sense people’s emotions far faster than other humans, and when trained properly, they can react accordingly to help a victim alleviate their suffering with something as simple as comfort.

Holiday, a donated dog from a local breeder, was provided to the local courthouse in Aroostook County to be an emotional support dog. The young Labrador Retriever is all fur and goofiness at the moment, but the dog will be quickly trained to become an emotional support animal, particularly during sessions and hearings involving family, crime victims’ presence, children, rape victims, developmentally disabled adults and elderly. The comfort dog will be a regular presence during court proceedings or investigations that can otherwise be extremely stressful to attendees who are vulnerable. For families and children, particularly those who are victims of crime, the dog can be a comfort outlet while having to witness the trial and sentencing of an offender.

Of course, for Holiday, life at the beginning is about figuring out this complex world humans live in while being cared for and raised by Aroostook County District Attorney Todd Collins. The project is a bit of a first of its kind for the County as well as probably Maine. No other courthouses currently involve a comfort dog for attendees and particularly victims or children engaged in the legal process. If the significant stress people normally go through in a case and hearing can be reduced, Collins believes the benefits can be exponentially in better witnesses, proceedings and less impact on the victims seeking justice.

Many wonder how a dog wouldn’t become a big distraction during a court trial or hearing. However, comfort dogs once trained can be amazingly responsive and behaved in their professional settings. And the benefits are not just for the attendees. Court employees who by their role have to listen and work through the trauma of others’ suffering can be emotionally impacted over time as well. The aggregate of suffering one hears and listens to case after case takes a price on people, especially responders and investigators. Comfort dogs help these professionals reduce their own built-up anxiety and stress, even if it is just being a distraction as something furry to pet and interact with for a few minutes and forget about work in the process.

Holiday’s job will be a bit more specific at times; the dog will be part of an investigation team, attending when investigators need to go through the harsh details of a crime with a victim to build a case for prosecution. It’s hard for such victims to trust and open up to anyone after such an event, and comfort dogs have been an amazing help doing so. Holiday’s job will be a big one on a daily basis, but Collins believes the animal will easily earn her keep ten times over when applied to case work.

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